- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Rock tied to shady P.I.

Comedian Chris Rock hired an indicted Hollywood private eye to investigate a model in a paternity case, according to a published report.

Anthony Pellicano was retained by representatives of Mr. Rock after Hungarian model Monika Zsibrita claimed in 1999 that the comedian was the father of her unborn child, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday. Mr. Rock, 40, was separated from his wife, Malaak Compton-Rock, when he met Miss Zsibrita. The outcome of the now-concluded paternity case was not clear because it was sealed by a private judge, Associated Press reports.

The disclosure makes Mr. Rock the latest — and arguably best known — celebrity to have sought the help of Mr. Pellicano. The private detective was indicted in February in a federal wiretapping probe. He is accused of eavesdropping on Hollywood stars and using the information for threats and blackmail and in some cases to help clients gain advantages in legal disputes. Mr. Pellicano has pleaded not guilty.

Matt Labov, a spokesman for Mr. Rock, confirmed the hiring of Mr. Pellicano for the newspaper but did not immediately respond to an e-mail from AP seeking further comment.

So sorry, Kaavya says

Teenage author Kaavya Viswanathan yesterday said she was shocked to see so many similarities between her acclaimed first book and two novels by Megan McCafferty and maintained they were unintentional.

“When I was writing, I genuinely believed each word was my own,” Miss Viswanathan said in an interview with Katie Couric on NBC’s “Today” show.

Miss Viswanathan said she hopes Mrs. McCafferty can forgive her. She has promised to revise her book and said she would acknowledge Mrs. McCafferty in a foreword. “The last thing that I ever wanted to do was cause any distress to Megan McCafferty. … I’ve been unable to contact her, and all I want to do is tell her how profoundly sorry I am for this entire situation,” she said.

Miss Viswanathan, a 19-year-old sophomore at Harvard University, was just 17 when she signed a reported six-figure, two-book deal with Little, Brown and Co. Her first novel, “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life,” came out in March. DreamWorks already has acquired film rights.

Readers spotted similarities to Mrs. McCafferty’s books, which include “Sloppy Firsts” and “Second Helpings,” and alerted Mrs. McCafferty, who in turn notified her publisher. Since then, more than a dozen similar passages have been found.

Sleight of hand

David Copperfield has magically escaped getting robbed.

The 49-year-old illusionist was walking with two female assistants to their tour bus after his show Sunday at a performing arts center in West Palm Beach, Fla., when four teens pulled up in a black car, and two armed robbers got out of the car and demanded the group’s belongings, a police report said.

One woman reportedly handed over $400 from her pockets and the other gave up her purse with 200 euros (about $250), $100, her passport, plane tickets and a cell phone. Mr. Copperfield, according to AP, refused to empty his pockets.

The magician says he turned his pockets inside out to reveal nothing in them, even though he was carrying his passport, wallet and cell phone.

Four teenagers were arrested and charged with armed robbery. They were held without bond, police said. The women’s property was recovered, AP reports.

Around town

Best-selling authors Terry McMillan and Melissa Bank will be in town tomorrow to speak with D.C. public school students.

Miss McMillan, who is promoting her latest book, “The Interruption of Everything,” will address about 200 students tomorrow morning at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. Her earlier works, “Waiting to Exhale” and “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” were made into hit films.

Miss Bank, author of “The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing,” will chat with students at Bell Multicultural High School.

Tomorrow evening, both writers will participate in PEN/Faulkner’s Reading Series program at the Folger Shakespeare Library, beginning at 8.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports.

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